Mental health bill gets star treatment

Actress Kelly Preston spent the day talking with state lawmakers about a bill supported by the Church of Scientology.

TALLAHASSEE – A Church of Scientology group brought celebrity firepower to the Capitol Tuesday, recruiting actor Kelly Preston to lobby for a bill that aims to restrict mental health services in public schools.

Preston, the wife of actor and prominent Scientologist John Travolta, spent the day talking to lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings.

Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets

The bill, backed by the Scientology offshoot Citizens Commission on Human Rights, has moved steadily through House committees. But it appears to have hit a snag in the Senate, partly because of its ties to the church.

Consumer Alert: Scientology

“Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill… (Scientology is) the world’s largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.”
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted at What judges have to say about Scientology

A similar but less sweeping bill passed the Senate last year with little public attention but died in the House.

“It was not a controversy because no one tried to label it a Scientology bill,” said church consultant Mary Repper, referring to last year’s legislation.

The St. Petersburg Times reported Saturday that Scientology is backing the legislation. That prompted a stepped up lobbying effort, Repper said.

Last year’s bill would have prohibited schools from denying school services to students who refuse to psychotropic drugs. The Church of Scientology, whose spiritual headquarters are in Clearwater, oppose psychiatry and other mental health services.

The current Senate bill, sponsored by Tampa Republican Sen. Victor Crist, would prohibit school officials from referring students for mental health services or passing on observations about abnormal behavior to their parents.

Scientology’s Lethal Contract

“Imagine a church so dangerous, you must sign a release form before you can receive its “spiritual assistance.” This assistance might involve holding you against your will for an indefinite period, isolating you from friends and family, and denying you access to appropriate medical care. You will of course be billed for this treatment – assuming you survive it. If not, the release form absolves your caretakers of all responsibility for your suffering and death. Welcome to the Church of Scientology.”
A Church’s Lethal Contract

The current House bill, sponsored by Miami Beach Republican Rep. Gus Barreiro, would allow school officials to refer students for mental health services but only after telling parents that no medical test can diagnose mental illness and that any mental disorder will go on a student’s permanent record.

Mental health diagnoses are noted in student files only if the school is involved in a student’s treatment or the disorder requires special education.

The legislation is opposed by several mental health organizations, including the state Office of Suicide Prevention, which fears it could prevent potentially suicidal teens from getting help.

Jennings and Gov. Jeb Bush have “serious concerns” about the legislation, said spokesman Jacob DiPietre.

“The governor and lieutenant governor side with science, but this administration has an open door policy, and we listen to all sides,” Dipietre said.

Supporters of the bill say they don’t want to heighten the stigma of mental illness but rather make parents aware of how difficult it is to shed once a child is diagnosed, Preston and others said.

“These psychiatric labelings are not actually medical disorders that can be tested for such as through brain scans,” Preston said. Too often parents are intimidated by schools into getting psychotropic drugs for their children, she said.

“These parents need to be aware of the potential dangers of these drugs,” Preston said.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
St. Petersburg Times, USA
Apr. 12, 2005
Alisa Ulferts, Times Staff Writer
, , ,

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday April 12, 2005.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject



Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at

Travel Religiously

Book skip-the-line tickets to the worlds major religious sites — or to any other place in the world.